20th Mar, 2019

Author with learning difficulties teaches children to embrace differences in people

Harry Leach 12th Feb, 2019

A REDDITCH author who has learning difficulties has been using her character ‘Jess the Goth Fairy’ to teach children the importance of embracing differences in people.

The project by Jess Hiles has coincided with National Storytelling Week, which began on Saturday and runs until tomorrow.

Jess, her mum and her co-author Jo have transformed the 34-year-old’s experiences of living with the difficulties she has into the fairy to show that everyone is different but should be treated equally.

The character encounters the same things that Jess had to deal with, such as being laughed at and feeling out of place.

Such has been their success that Jess and Jo have created three books and are now working on a fourth.

Jess was chosen from nearly 600 nominees, as one of the country’s first Learning Disability and Autism Leaders.

Sarah Clarke, campaigns manager for not for profit support provider Dimensions, said: “Jess’s story has captured our imagination.

“She’s doing incredible work helping others.”

Jess takes her books on tours of schools and libraries, where she reads to groups of children.

This has not only driven Jess’s confidence but has also resulted in children coming forward and embracing their own differences.

More specifically, a mum came forward following one of Jess’ visits to explain that her little girl too had been diagnosed with learning disabilities, saying she had always felt different.

However by reading her books, Jess had brought the girl comfort.

Jo said: “Until the books came out, Jess always wore a baseball cap which I thought was because she liked them.

“But she told me as we were writing the first book it was to cover her face.

“Now she has a steam punk style top hat because she is proud of who she is.

“I just feel so proud to watch her.”

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